Poor Customer Service and Complaint Management: 4 Tips for Business

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Copyright:  Artwork by Dave Carroll.

Service-oriented should Company the customer is to be treated as a king. After all, companies should always keep in mind that the critical consumer will immediately migrate to the next provider. The reality in Germany unfortunately still looks different.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherGerman Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


Customer complaint as Youtube hit

A few years ago, the following story went viral: The Canadian folk singer Dave Carroll flew with United Airlines to Nebraska and got his guitar at the airport pretty broken back. When United refused to pay, Carroll just made a song about it and uploaded it to YouTube. 5 million views and various reports on CNN and MSNBC later United wanted to pay then.

Apart from the fact that the video shows very nicely how little squeamish airlines handle baggage, this musical complaint is a nice indication of what is possible in the social media age, when customers put up with creative, original ideas to defend can - to (Image) damage the company.

Complaint management - useful or not?

Most companies have complaint management departments that are designed to absorb and somehow manage customer resentment. However, in an emergency, when customers complain publicly via video, most companies are not equipped at all and panic spreads all too often.

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"I am an entrepreneur, customers have to buy well and shut up." Despite digitalization and globalization, many companies in Germany are still acting according to this motto, who have by no means yet understood that the maxims of the new economy are different: namely, seeing customers as people who help to find mistakes and eliminate weaknesses - productive complaint management just.

What happens to you as a customer

This happened to me recently, for example, when I recently complained to my telecommunications provider - one who has won an award for customer service. And not because of a triviality, but because they simply forgot contrary to my job, to quit my old provider and the contract had continued without my knowledge.

When I now wanted to reimburse the double cost, I was initially fed with a standard letter, after which you could not reimburse the cost - and then followed the explanation why that was done. On my complaint that you have made a mistake in the telephone contract, was not received at all.

When I called, I was informed that I had to complain in writing, by letter or fax and with my signature. If I didn't, I could only get the standard answer. In my opinion that doesn't do anything Sense and is pure customer harassment.

That's how good customer service works

So I called now a bit more energetic, but not unfriendly, the self-employed hotline, a total of three attempts because I could not explain to the people right away that the DSL hotline could not help me.

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Finally, I had a friendly colleague on the phone who could settle the matter in five minutes to my satisfaction. And what did he put into his form: the customer escalated! At my request he explained to me in a true-hearted way that in the jargon of the company, that is just the expression when customers call several times and demand something more forcefully their right. Great. Then I know now what this company thinks of its customer.

Customer service via social media: unadulterated, relaxed and authentic

There are other great examples of good customer service - for example, the Deutsche Bahn Twitter account. And humor is simply part of it - customers notice that on the Twitter account for customer service, @DB_Bahn. Customers ask about muscular dogs and toilet paper. This is to be thrown away and a good advertisement for DB on top of that.


A while ago, Deutsche Bahn was heavily criticized for its boss ticket. Now she learned from her mistakes some time ago and customer service is now answering questions via Twitter. Exemplary. It is also particularly exemplary if you answer questions yourself via Twitter, where you have to ask yourself whether they are really serious:

Like that for more toilet paper. I especially laughed that the customer ended up using the Bahn magazine - after all, there is something good for that ... ;-) After all, dear @DB_Bahn, the customer draws attention to a major problem at this point: the condition on the train toilets.

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4 tips for companies

But what can companies do besides such humor inserts specifically to improve their customer service? 4 tips.

1. Calculate budget for complaint management

But the problems are deeper: namely in the budget, which is granted for the complaint management. Dissatisfied customers simply cost money and would actually have to be calculated. Exactly that does not happen in many enterprises: budget for complaint management simply does not exist.

Unlike selling products where performance is clearly defined and the price is clearly defined, customer service and complaint management are services that, at first glance, do not appear to be open to the consumer at all and can quickly run to the limit.

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2. Customer service included

Consultation example: Often, the questioner is not clear what the temporal scope of their simple question takes; An effort namely, in addition to the creation of a clear customer profile often includes lengthy research, you want to come as a consultant, finally, to a reasonable, serious statement.

And customers are surprised when this simple information costs hourly rates of 80 Euro or more. Some are even offended because they can not and do not want to help out of sheer philanthropy.

3. Always stay calm when dealing with complaints

The jug goes to the well until it breaks: This statement applies in many cases to the complaint management of companies. I experience this again and again as a customer: When you answer innocent inquiries, you suddenly and unexpectedly feel the entrepreneur's frustration. And then every time I think: entrepreneurs shouldn't react like that.

Because: companies whose employees freak out on the hotline because the customer demands things that you can not afford at the price, has already lost. Because he only shows his helplessness to oppose the everywhere raging price war corresponding business concepts. In addition, the customer usually has no idea how high the equivalent of his claim. That, too, has to be communicated.

4. Clearly redirect services and service

It is better to outline its services, including service, from the outset in a clearer and more transparent manner so that the customer knows exactly what he can and can not get. Especially in the service sector, this is sometimes difficult. And even if you clearly communicate it to the customer, it is not clear if he understands it.

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In addition, you have to make it clear to the customer that, for example, you do not act out of pure philanthropy but out of entrepreneurial consideration. That is to say: for good performance there should also be good money. that also includes a good complaint management.

Conclusion: customer service means to act entrepreneurially

Even though entrepreneurial activity seems to have the negative connotation of pure selfishness for many, one should not wear this shoe:

Entrepreneurship is not bad and should contain social components as well - but that's another discussion.

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  1. Kerstin

    Thanks for the great tips for better customer service. I believe that good customer service can bring many customers back. In any case, I will try to have nice employees on the line.

    • Simone Janson

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Daniel

    People, do not let the companies sell you stupid, it's all about profit!

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